The Washington Wizards spent roughly an hour at a Verizon Center shootaround in advance of Tuesday night’s preseason opener against the Brooklyn Nets, and while games that don’t count in the standings often can mean drudgery, players such as John Wall and Bradley Beal said they were eager for tip-off.
For Beal, the anticipation comes from getting his first chance to play a game since his rookie season ended prematurely because of a stress injury in his right leg. The No. 3 overall pick missed 26 games with various ailments but also set a franchise record for most three-pointers by a rookie.
“It’s been a long and anxious summer,” said Beal, who became the seventh teenager to be named to the NBA’s all-rookie team. “We were done early last year, so I mean we’re all pretty well anxious for this game.”
Beal was cleared to participate in basketball-related activities in July and began ramping up workouts with his personal trainer in St. Louis, at Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas and most recently in Washington with Wizards assistant Sam Cassell.
Following this morning’s shootaround, Wall reflected on how he came to camp last summer feeling upbeat, then realized his knee wasn’t right at the start of a workout. The stress injury diagnosis led to rest and rehab and much concern throughout the organization.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 finally was cleared to begin escalating basketball-related activities Dec. 14 after receiving a third Synvisc shot to lubricate and cushion the knee while visiting orthopedic surgeon David Altchek in New York. He was back participating in non-contact drills less than two weeks later and made his regular season debut Jan. 12, collecting 14 points and four assists in a 93-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
“Just go in there and work on everything we worked on in training camp,” Wall said of goals for Tuesday night’s game. “Get our chemistry down pat, get our first time playing against another opponent instead of playing against each other for the last like month and a half. That’s the main thing.”